for this game

In possible home finale, Clemens dominates Reds

Sep 20, 2006 - 2:55 PM HOUSTON (Ticker) -- Roger Clemens sure acted like this was his final start at Minute Maid Park.

Making what could have been the final home start of his illustrious career, Clemens pitched six scoreless innings to lead the Houston Astros to a 7-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds.

A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens had contemplated retirement in the past. But he decided in May to return for a 23rd season after signing a one-year contract with the Astros that was pro-rated to be worth $20 to $22 million.

Now 44 years old, Clemens again has hinted that this season could be his last."

"Right now all I am thinking about it tomorrow," Clemens said. "We have another game and all I am thinking about it getting to watch my buddy (Andy Pettitte) get back on the field and pitch.

"If I do commit to come back and play, I don't want to be average. I want to be able to win. A lot of guys can go out there and just make a good living (being average), but the focus on winning isn't there. I don't want to do that."

With the Astros ending their season next week on a seven-game road trip, Clemens was making his final start in front of the home fans. Of course, the future Hall of Famer and Texas native could again to decide to return next season.

Clemens (7-5) was outstanding Wednesday as he scattered just three singles, walking three and striking out six in winning for the first time in four starts.

Clemens came out for the top of the seventh inning before being removed by manager Phil Garner without throwing a pitch. He departed to a standing ovation, then emerged from the dugout moments later to acknowledge the fans.

Luke Scott carried the offense to help make Clemens' final home appearance of the season a success. The second-year outfielder hit a solo homer in the second inning and delivered a three-run triple in the fifth, giving the Astros a 4-0 lead.

"It has been like a dream," said Scott, who batting .382 (65-for-170) since the All-Star break. "I am not going to lie. All I can say is that I am really enjoying myself out there, but at the same time, I just try to turn it loose and use the gifts I have been given.

"Instead of going on there and looking at the numbers, we just have to go out there, know we have a game tomorrow and work hard to win it."

Veteran second baseman Craig Biggio provided a bigger cushion with his 20th homer, a three-run shot in the sixth off Bronson Arroyo (14-10) that made it 7-0.

"Luke is having himself a nice little run here and Biggio had a big hit for the team today," Garner said. "Today, Luke got a real big hit for us with the bases loaded and he came through in a situation that the team has been struggling in this year."

Brad Ausmus added two hits and scored twice for the Astros (73-78), who have slim playoff hopes. Houston entered the day 6 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League wild card race.

"It was a meaningful game," Ausmus said. "I personally hope this is not the last time I am going to catch Roger in this ballpark. Catching him has certainly been the highlight of my career. He is just a true professional and today he went out there and pitched a heck of a game."

Arroyo, who had won his last four starts, was ripped for seven runs and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings.

"I felt I had good stuff," Arroyo said. "The ball Scott hit out felt really good, but I gave up that walk and that led to that big inning. Obviously, that hurt a lot, too. It was one of those days. What are you going to do?"

Arroyo was also quite impressed by what Clemens did.

"You look out there and you say, 'How's this guy still putting up zeros?,'" Arroyo said. "You take some of his velocity away and normally a guy starts to slip. But he's out there throwing cutters and split-fingers. It's amazing what he can still do."

Reds manager Jerry Narron also praised Clemens.

"That's why he's one of the best pitchers ever," Narron said. "I'm sure they were, with the kind of career he's had and with the kind of person he is. I'm sure they wanted to have a good game for him."

Juan Castro stroked a two-run single in the eighth for the Reds (74-78), who fell 5 1/2 games behind the Dodgers.

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